Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Biology

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WikiProject Biology (Rated Project-class)
WikiProject icon WikiProject Biology is part of the WikiProject Biology, an effort to build a comprehensive and detailed guide to biology on Wikipedia.
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This interrelated series of articles is one of the most disoriented, contradictory and factually compromised sets that I've encountered on our project in quite some time. Moreover, the overlapping nature of content and lack of adequately unambiguous central navigation is confusing, even for someone who has existing familiarity with the general topic. I'm not certain of how much available manpower WikiProject Biology has to offer at the moment, but I'd like to get the ball rolling on a collaborative effort of some sort.   — C M B J   04:56, 15 November 2011 (UTC)

A thorough review of the gene article[edit]

Transcluded from Talk:Gene/Review


The gene article gets 50,000 views per month but has been de-listed as a featured article since 2006. Given the success of the recent blitz on the enzyme article, I thought I'd suggest spending a couple of weeks seeing if we can get it up to a higher standard. I'm going to start with updating some of the images. If you'd like to help out on the article, it'd be great to see you there. T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 09:49, 31 March 2015 (UTC)

It appears the main reason gene was delisted as a GA was sourcing (see Talk:Gene/GA1). The following free textbook is probably sufficient to document most basic facts about genes:
a second one is even more relevant, but unfortunately not freely accessed:
I will start working on this as I find time. Boghog (talk) 17:58, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the prompt on this! I see I did do some work here back in the day, but not enough. Looks like a typical large-but-untended wiki article - bloated up with random factoids with no attention to the flow of the article. I'm pretty busy for this week and out of town next week, but I'll try to give it some attention. Opabinia regalis (talk) 19:19, 31 March 2015 (UTC)
I'll probably go through and make all the necessary MOS tweaks for FA status to the article within the next week. Too preoccupied with other articles at the moment to make any substantive content/reference changes though. Seppi333 (Insert  | Maintained) 03:24, 1 April 2015 (UTC)


Snooping around I encountered Template:Genetics glossary, I don't know it's backstory, but it is a rather cleaver idea for a template in my opinion. I partially reckon it might go well under the first image in place or the second image depicting DNA, which conceptually is a tangent. I am not sure, hence my asking. --Squidonius (talk) 21:47, 1 April 2015 (UTC)

Including a glossary could be useful, but I think it should be concise and tailored specifically for this article. Currently {{Genetics glossary}} contains 22 entries and some of the definitions are quite lengthy. A shorter glossary, closer to the size of {{Transcription factor glossary}} or {{Restriction enzyme glossary}}, IMHO would be more effective. Another option is to transclude the {{Genetics sidebar}} which in turn links to {{Genetics glossary}}. Boghog (talk) 06:38, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
...could also just transclude a collapsed version - provides the full set of terms and takes up little space. If people need a glossary, they can expand it. Glossaries probably shouldn't be expanded by default unless there's a lot of free space along the right side of the page between level 2 sections (i.e., horizontal line breaks), since images and tables should take precedence. Seppi333 (Insert  | Maintained) 07:25, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Collapsed or not collapsed, {{Genetics glossary}} is still way too long. Glossaries should be restricted to key terms with short definitions that can quickly be scanned while reading the rest of the article. IMHO, a long glossary defeats its purpose. Furthermore an uncollapsed glossary is more likely be read and if kept short, no need to collapse. Boghog (talk) 08:30, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Fair enough. Might as well make a new one since it's not referenced anyway; imo, glossaries should cite sources, preferably another glossary, because it's article content. Seppi333 (Insert  | Maintained) 08:39, 2 April 2015 (UTC)
Hmm, apparently I added a bunch of stuff to that template awhile back, but don't remember it at all. It appears to be a subset of the article genetics glossary. (I'm not really sure we need both.) I agree that the template is way too long, and as constructed is hard to ctrl-F for a term.
I suggest just linking to the MBC glossary as a "reference". I would consider this kind of thing as a summary analogous to the lead paragraphs; no need for a clutter of little blue numbers. Opabinia regalis (talk) 21:47, 2 April 2015 (UTC)


I'm planning on adding some more Molecular Biology of the Cell references to the article using {{rp}} to specify chapter sections. I went to the MBOC 4th ed. online page but I can find no way of searching by page number, chapter, section or anything else. Any ideas on how to specify specific sections as is possible for Biochemistry 5th ed. online? Alternatively, maybe there's a more easily refernced online textbook for general citations. T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 11:30, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

I had the same train of thought here on the regular talk page. How about something like this? Uses {{sfn}} to include links to individual sections as notes. Of course, now they're separate from the rest of the references, but maybe it's not a bad idea to distinguish 'basic stuff you can find in a textbook' from 'specific results you need to consult the literature for'. Opabinia regalis (talk) 06:09, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
You're right, I missed that. I agree that it's actually a good way to format it. Having a separate list that indicates the significance of the references is useful. T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 08:06, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
I am not a big fan of {{sfn}} templates. They are more complicated and harder to maintain. Plus they don't directly address the problem of searching Molecular Biology of the Cell. What seems to work is to search for the chapter or subchapter titles in quotes. For example search for "DNA and Chromosomes" provides a link to the introduction of chapter 4. Then one can reference the chapter or subchapter number with {{rp}}. I am busy this week but should have more time this weekend to work on this. Boghog (talk) 12:21, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
I mis-described my own suggestion; it's actually {{efn}} (not that that's better). I like your method better from an aesthetic and maintenance point of view, but the problem is that giving a reader a reference to "chapter 4" is less useful if there's no obvious way to get to chapter 4 from the book's table of contents page. I don't see a way to provide separate links for each chapter/section without splitting up the references in the reference list. We could use {{rp}} like this, but I think the links police won't like that. Opabinia regalis (talk) 18:03, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
OK, I now see what you mean. The choice is between {{efn}} and in-line external links and {{efn}} is the lesser of two evils. One other possibility is to append the chapter external links to the citation:
or have separate citations for each chapter where only the |chapter= and |chapterurl= parameters differ:
Boghog (talk) 18:47, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
My first reaction to your 'appended links' idea was that we shouldn't create our own linked pseudo-TOC given the publisher's apparent desire not to have a linked TOC hosted by the organization they actually licensed the content to. But all the other ideas do essentially the same thing, so that's a bit silly. I think I like that idea in combination with {{rp}} chapter labels best, as it's least intrusive in the text, makes clear how many citations go to a general reference, and doesn't require a separate list or potentially fragile formatting. Opabinia regalis (talk) 20:49, 21 April 2015 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── I've not done much non-standard reference citation so I'll wait until you've done a couple so that I can see the format in context before doing any more. The ones I added yesterday shouldn't be too difficult to reformat. T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 12:24, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

You're the one currently doing the work, so I think that means you get to decide :) Opabinia regalis (talk) 19:01, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

MBOC references[edit]


Genes[1]:2 are numerous[1]:4 and useful[1]:4.1


  1. ^ a b c Alberts B, Johnson A, Lewis J, Raff M, Roberts K, Walter P (2002). Molecular Biology of the Cell (Fourth ed.). New York: Garland Science. ISBN 978-0-8153-3218-3. 
Ch 2: Cell Chemistry and Biosynthesis
2.1: The Chemical Components of a Cell
Ch 4: DNA and Chromosomes
4.1: The Structure and Function of DNA
4.2: Chromosomal DNA and Its Packaging in the Chromatin Fiber
Ch 6: How Cells Read the Genome: From DNA to Protein
6.1: DNA to RNA
6.2: RNA to Protein
Ch 7: Control of Gene Expression

So {{rp}} labels the chapter number but does not provide any easy link to the actual information. Therefore it's combined with a list of chapter links. the benefit is that the {{rp}} template is relatively easy to maintain and the list of chapter links doesn't require maintainance and places all the MBOC links together. As stated above, there's basically no way to avoid linking individually to chapters if we want to cite MBOC. I'll finish building the chapter list over the next couple of days. T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 01:29, 27 April 2015 (UTC)

I've finished adding MBOC references up to section 3 (gene expression). Also, whoever originally wrote the gene expression section of the article really liked semicolons! T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 10:51, 27 April 2015 (UTC)
Looks great, I like the collapsible box! I can't find it at the moment, though - IIRC there is somewhere an agreement not to use collapsed boxes for references for accessibility reasons. I don't see it in WP:ACCESSIBILITY so I could be misremembering, and since the box contains links and not the reference note itself, it's probably fine. Just wanted to mention it in case someone recognized the issue. Opabinia regalis (talk) 07:50, 28 April 2015 (UTC)
@Opabinia regalis and Evolution and evolvability: The guideline is MOS:COLLAPSE, which states "...boxes that toggle text display between hide and show, should not conceal article content, including reference lists ... When scrolling lists or collapsible content are used, take care that the content will still be accessible on devices that do not support JavaScript or CSS." I checked this article on my phone, a mid-2011 model, and that entire box just doesn't appear at all using the default mobile view. I tried setting the template parameter expand=true so the box is expanded by default but that made no difference. Maybe better to change to a bulleted or indented list? Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 10:50, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
@Adrian J. Hunter: Well spotted - It's really irritating when templates don't work properly on mobiles! I've changed the MBOC list to be wrapped in {{Hidden begin}} + {{Hidden end}}, which renders properly on phones (default expanded). T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 12:31, 30 June 2015 (UTC)
Yep, that works – thanks! Adrian J. Hunter(talkcontribs) 13:23, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

Third vs. Fourth Generation Sequencing[edit]

Nanopore sequencing is described as 4th generation [1] and 3rd generation [2] in Wikipedia. Please review and revise. Definitions of third and fourth generation differ amongst sources. Consider adding a page to describe 4th generation. One distinction is that 3rd is all about very long reads whereas 4th is about in situ (single cell) reads.

Facto Post – Issue 2 – 13 July 2017[edit]

Facto Post – Issue 2 – 13 July 2017
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Editorial: Core models and topics[edit]

Wikimedians interest themselves in everything under the sun — and then some. Discussion on "core topics" may, oddly, be a fringe activity, and was popular here a decade ago.

The situation on Wikidata today does resemble the halcyon days of 2006 of the English Wikipedia. The growth is there, and the reliability and stylistic issues are not yet pressing in on the project. Its Berlin conference at the end of October will have five years of achievement to celebrate. Think Wikimania Frankfurt 2005.

Progress must be made, however, on referencing "core facts". This has two parts: replacing "imported from Wikipedia" in referencing by external authorities; and picking out statements, such as dates and family relationships, that must not only be reliable but be seen to be reliable.

In addition, there are many properties on Wikidata lacking a clear data model. An emerging consensus may push to the front key sourcing and biomedical properties as requiring urgent attention. Wikidata's "manual of style" is currently distributed over thousands of discussions. To make it coalesce, work on such a core is needed.


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Facto Post – Issue 10 – 12 March 2018[edit]

Facto Post – Issue 10 – 12 March 2018
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Milestone for mix'n'match[edit]

Around the time in February when Wikidata clicked past item Q50000000, another milestone was reached: the mix'n'match tool uploaded its 1000th dataset. Concisely defined by its author, Magnus Manske, it works "to match entries in external catalogs to Wikidata". The total number of entries is now well into eight figures, and more are constantly being added: a couple of new catalogs each day is normal.

Since the end of 2013, mix'n'match has gradually come to play a significant part in adding statements to Wikidata. Particularly in areas with the flavour of digital humanities, but datasets can of course be about practically anything. There is a catalog on skyscrapers, and two on spiders.

These days mix'n'match can be used in numerous modes, from the relaxed gamified click through a catalog looking for matches, with prompts, to the fantastically useful and often demanding search across all catalogs. I'll type that again: you can search 1000+ datasets from the simple box at the top right. The drop-down menu top left offers "creation candidates", Magnus's personal favourite. m:Mix'n'match/Manual for more.

For the Wikidatan, a key point is that these matches, however carried out, add statements to Wikidata if, and naturally only if, there is a Wikidata property associated with the catalog. For everyone, however, the hands-on experience of deciding of what is a good match is an education, in a scholarly area, biographical catalogs being particularly fraught. Underpinning recent rapid progress is an open infrastructure for scraping and uploading.

Congratulations to Magnus, our data Stakhanovite!


3D printing

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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 12:26, 12 March 2018 (UTC)

Facto Post – Issue 11 – 9 April 2018[edit]

Facto Post – Issue 11 – 9 April 2018
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The 100 Skins of the Onion[edit]

Open Citations Month, with its eminently guessable hashtag, is upon us. We should be utterly grateful that in the past 12 months, so much data on which papers cite which other papers has been made open, and that Wikidata is playing its part in hosting it as "cites" statements. At the time of writing, there are 15.3M Wikidata items that can do that.

Pulling back to look at open access papers in the large, though, there is is less reason for celebration. Access in theory does not yet equate to practical access. A recent LSE IMPACT blogpost puts that issue down to "heterogeneity". A useful euphemism to save us from thinking that the whole concept doesn't fall into the realm of the oxymoron.

Some home truths: aggregation is not content management, if it falls short on reusability. The PDF file format is wedded to how humans read documents, not how machines ingest them. The salami-slicer is our friend in the current downloading of open access papers, but for a better metaphor, think about skinning an onion, laboriously, 100 times with diminishing returns. There are of the order of 100 major publisher sites hosting open access papers, and the predominant offer there is still a PDF.

Red onion cross section

From the discoverability angle, Wikidata's bibliographic resources combined with the SPARQL query are superior in principle, by far, to existing keyword searches run over papers. Open access content should be managed into consistent HTML, something that is currently strenuous. The good news, such as it is, would be that much of it is already in XML. The organisational problem of removing further skins from the onion, with sensible prioritisation, is certainly not insuperable. The CORE group (the bloggers in the LSE posting) has some answers, but actually not all that is needed for the text and data mining purposes they highlight. The long tail, or in other words the onion heart when it has become fiddly beyond patience to skin, does call for a pis aller. But the real knack is to do more between the XML and the heart.


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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 16:25, 9 April 2018 (UTC)

i-motif DNA discovery (New Type of DNA)[edit]

Hello WP:BIOLOGY! This past weekend a new type of DNA was found inside the nucleii of human cells. This DNA is called i-motif DNA and is a 4-stranded (quadroplex) type of DNA. It is notable because of its peculiar cytosine-cytosine bonds, which normally don't occur in standard DNA. I'm just a layman who edits Wikipedia, and I will be creating the new article at i-motif DNA, but I just wanted to give those who might be experts in the DNA field a heads-up about this exciting new discovery. I think there is a lot of information out there to make this a good article, but I'm working on other projects so I don't want to get too involved. Thank you, Fritzmann2002 17:47, 30 April 2018 (UTC)

Elisa Izaurralde article[edit]

Hi everyone. I'm working on expanding the Wikipedia page for Elisa Izaurralde, a prominent Uruguayan RNA researcher who died last week. I would appreciate help if people want to contribute. Thanks Biochemlife (talk) 10:03, 5 May 2018 (UTC)

Merger discussion for Longitudinal study [edit]


An article which may be of interest to this project—Longitudinal study —has been proposed for merging with Long-term experiment. If you are interested, please participate in the merger discussion. Thank you. Mathglot (talk) 03:16, 12 May 2018 (UTC)

Facto Post – Issue 12 – 28 May 2018[edit]

Facto Post – Issue 12 – 28 May 2018
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ScienceSource funded[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation announced full funding of the ScienceSource grant proposal from ContentMine on May 18. See the ScienceSource Twitter announcement and 60 second video.

A medical canon?

The proposal includes downloading 30,000 open access papers, aiming (roughly speaking) to create a baseline for medical referencing on Wikipedia. It leaves open the question of how these are to be chosen.

The basic criteria of WP:MEDRS include a concentration on secondary literature. Attention has to be given to the long tail of diseases that receive less current research. The MEDRS guideline supposes that edge cases will have to be handled, and the premature exclusion of publications that would be in those marginal positions would reduce the value of the collection. Prophylaxis misses the point that gate-keeping will be done by an algorithm.

Two well-known but rather different areas where such considerations apply are tropical diseases and alternative medicine. There are also a number of potential downloading troubles, and these were mentioned in Issue 11. There is likely to be a gap, even with the guideline, between conditions taken to be necessary but not sufficient, and conditions sufficient but not necessary, for candidate papers to be included. With around 10,000 recognised medical conditions in standard lists, being comprehensive is demanding. With all of these aspects of the task, ScienceSource will seek community help.


OpenRefine logo, courtesy of Google

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MediaWiki message delivery (talk) 10:16, 28 May 2018 (UTC)

Please come and help...[edit]

A requested move has been relisted at Talk:Ectoplasm (paranormal)#Requested move 17 May 2018. Due to the existence of a biological article of the same name, your rationale and !vote to support or oppose this page move would be greatly appreciated!  Painius  put'r there  19:21, 28 May 2018 (UTC)

WikiProject collaboration notice from the Portals WikiProject[edit]

The reason I am contacting you is because there are one or more portals that fall under this subject, and the Portals WikiProject is currently undertaking a major drive to automate portals that may affect them.

Portals are being redesigned.

The new design features are being applied to existing portals.

At present, we are gearing up for a maintenance pass of portals in which the introduction section will be upgraded to no longer need a subpage. In place of static copied and pasted excerpts will be self-updating excerpts displayed through selective transclusion, using the template {{Transclude lead excerpt}}.

The discussion about this can be found here.

Maintainers of specific portals are encouraged to sign up as project members here, noting the portals they maintain, so that those portals are skipped by the maintenance pass. Currently, we are interested in upgrading neglected and abandoned portals. There will be opportunity for maintained portals to opt-in later, or the portal maintainers can handle upgrading (the portals they maintain) personally at any time.


On April 8th, 2018, an RfC ("Request for comment") proposal was made to eliminate all portals and the portal namespace. On April 17th, the Portals WikiProject was rebooted to handle the revitalization of the portal system. On May 12th, the RfC was closed with the result to keep portals, by a margin of about 2 to 1 in favor of keeping portals.

There's an article in the current edition of the Signpost interviewing project members about the RfC and the Portals WikiProject.

Since the reboot, the Portals WikiProject has been busy building tools and components to upgrade portals.

So far, 84 editors have joined.

If you would like to keep abreast of what is happening with portals, see the newsletter archive.

If you have any questions about what is happening with portals or the Portals WikiProject, please post them on the WikiProject's talk page.

Thank you.    — The Transhumanist   07:27, 30 May 2018 (UTC)

Hello from WikiProject Computational Biology![edit]

I hope you don't mind me adding our WikiProject to your list of related WikiProjects - if there's a better place to link this, just let me know. Thanks! Amkilpatrick (talk) 09:35, 8 June 2018 (UTC)

Various Biology drafts[edit]

Over on WP:WPM we been working on identifying draft which come under our project and reviewing them at Wikipedia:WikiProject Mathematics/List of math draft pages. Part of this process involved finding draft which had mathematical of chemical equations in them. Quite a few of them come under your project and we have listed them at Wikipedia:List of draft pages on science and engineering. You may wish to examine these and see if any should be promoted to main space. --Salix alba (talk): 07:42, 12 June 2018 (UTC)